Brazil’s legendary playmaker Zico believes that it would be a shame if the side were to lose Hulk for their second group game against Mexico on Tuesday.
Hulk limped out of a training session on Sunday with an apparent muscle problem in his left leg and, although the striker later said the injury was nothing serious, there remain doubts over his fitness.
Zico stated that the potential loss of the powerfully-built frontman would hurt the Selecao but also stressed that Brazil have players in their squad capable of stepping up.
‘Brazil have big players to replace him and will keep the same rhythm of the team,’ he said. ‘But it’s a shame because I particularly like Hulk.
'I think he’s a player who brings a different quality to the attack and he’s the most powerful player for them. In the World Cup though you have to be 100% fit, so we can’t have any problems for the future.’
Hulk’s unrivalled strength and work rate on the right side of the attack has added another dimension to the Brazil lineup in recent years, with his possible absence likely forcing manager Luiz Felipe Scolari to shift from his favoured 4-2-3-1 setup to his backup 4-3-3 plan.
With Chelsea’s Ramires coming into the midfield and teammate Oscar pushed up alongside Fred and Neymar in attack, the host nation likely won’t suffer too much without the Zenit star in the meantime, as they exercise the utmost caution with a gruelling few weeks of competition ahead.
Playing through injury at the World Cup is something Zico himself has first-hand experience of from Mexico '86, where his side fell to France in the quarter-finals, and the 2014 squad will be hoping that the same fate does not befall them as they deal with the expectations of a home crowd and the tag of tournament favourites.